Nana’s owner to open downtown bar, restaurant

May. 20, 2014 @ 01:17 PM

Bar Virgile to open downtown: Scott Howell, the founder and co-owner of the fine dining restaurant Nana’s and of the popular eatery NanaTaco, is partnering to open a new bar and eatery downtown at the corner of Main and Mangum streets.

Howell said he signed the lease for an approximately 1,000-square-foot space in a rear annex to the former Citizens National Bank building at 102 E. Main St. He plans to open a 49-seat bar and restaurant that will focus on upscale cocktails and French and country food.

While Nana’s is named for his 96-year-old grandmother on his father’s side, he said he wanted to do something to honor his mother’s side of the family. So the bar and eatery will be called Bar Virgile, named for his late grandfather Virgil Cook, but using the French spelling of the name.

“He was just a really good man,” Howell said.

The plan is to have the entrance to the bar and restaurant on Mangum Street, and to have half-moon banquettes and several large chandeliers on the inside.

The building’s owner, Arthur Rogers, launched a redevelopment of the structure starting late last year. The project involved the restoration the windows in the front and back of the building to allow for a small eatery in the back, retail on the ground floor, and office space. Howell said he expects construction to be pretty fast, with the opening in four to six months.

In addition to cocktails, he said they’re planning to serve house-made charcuterie including sausages, hot dogs, fries, and to buy prosciutto. They’re also planning to serve several egg dishes for brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

“It will be kind of country-French if you want to call it that way,” he said. “It’s going to be kind of simple bar food, but we’re going to do try to do lunch and simple food.”

Howell said he has two partners in the new venture. Partners Daniel Sartain will manage the front of the house and Brad Farran will be beverage program director, bartending at night and managing day-to-day-operations. Farran, who has worked at two award-winning bars in New York, said he’s been in conversations about the concept for years.

“We’re going to have a balance between classic and modern cocktails, I think the balance of which will be originals,” Farran said.

In addition to opening Bar Virgile, Howell said he’s still planning to partner to open a restaurant called NanaSteak. He said the concept is for the business to be a brasserie-style steakhouse with cocktails. He said they’re envisioning allowing customers to choose how thick they want their cuts to be, and also adding a large outdoor dining area.

“A bistro, to me, is more food-oriented, but a brassier is kind of a big, bustling bar with food; it’s got a dining room also,” he said.


Once Upon A Child to open: In a retail space next to Office Depot in Durham’s South Square area, a new used children’s clothing store called Once Upon a Child is targeted to open Thursday.

The store will be part of a national recycling retail chain that specializes in merchandise for children ranging from infants to pre-teens, according to a news release. The store buys and sells quality, gently used children’s clothing, books, baby equipment, furniture and other items.

“Our store fills a distinct niche in the retail market,” Lenny Deal, who co-owns the new Once Upon A Child with his son, Keith Deal, said in a news release. “I understand how expensive it is to raise children today and want to offer an affordable option for local families. By purchasing merchandise directly from consumers, we’re able to offer them lower prices and a great opportunity to receive cash on the spot for items they may have otherwise simply given away.”

The store does not require an appointment for the buying process and pays cash for items purchased from consumers.

For questions on the buying process or store hours, call the Durham store at 919-973-2652 or go to the website  

The store will be at 4001 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard.

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